A Heart Caution: The Facebook Judger

November 24, 2009 — Leave a comment

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Everyone has their opinions of Facebook.  Most think it is fantastic for all of it’s functionality and features, some think it is a waste of time, and some don’t understand it at all.  What I wanted to throw out there tonight was a challenge to all of us who are striving to follow God.

My question: How easy is it to judge people on Facebook?  We can think in our head while reading someone’s status and think “wow, jimmie is a nut job” or “I can’t believe julia said that – I thought she was smarter than that” or “she should grow up and not spend so much time on Facebook”.  Now, I will say that some of those critiques are actually legitimate thoughts and that sometimes there is no wrong doing on your part when thoughts like these arise.  Some people just post certain updates to get a reaction from people (ex/ “George W. Bush (or Barack Obama) is a terrorist and a Nazi and hates America”).  However, often times we can actually be doing wrong on these social networking sites and we can completely miss it every night.

My observation is that many people who are the typical facebook judgers are the ones who do not post frequently, but are on the site with just as much frequency as others.  They are simply the people who look through photos for long periods of time, read other people’s profile pages, etc.  My point is not that there is anything wrong with that, just that we should be aware of our hearts and minds when reading through people’s posts.  Sometimes we (and I say “we” because I’ve participated in this unfortunate act) can go looking for the latest gossip and have some poor motives while mindlessly cruising the internet.  There is so much that could be behind the reason that someone is posting something.  Maybe that person is in need of attention (and not recognizing it).  Maybe they want to persuade you of something.  Or…maybe they simply find something entertaining or interesting.

Maybe the real reason for the judgment is that there is envy.  Maybe you wish you had more time and could “waste” it on facebook.  Maybe you wish you had more friends or that you had a bigger influence.  Scott Williams posted today saying maybe you have IOI, meaning you find yourself “Irritated on the Inside” at other people.  There is nothing wrong with feeling irritated, but letting that irritation turn into judgment is where I believe the problem can lie.  I think the emphasis has to be empathy, as always.  This is what Jesus advocates for in a frequently quoted passage from Matthew 7:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

If there is actually a problem that you feel needs addressed, the correct response would be to actually privately talk to the person about things they were posting that you found offensive, inappropriate, or that they had some malicious purpose to them.

A new friend on twitter wrote me today and said, “We’re all fighting for significance.”  Sometimes our hearts can be filled with envy or pride and we can completely miss it, even with something as stupid as logging on to facebook late at night to read some mindless activities of friends.  So – check your heart, make sure it’s right, and continue to enjoy facebook, twitter, and all these other fun sites for connecting with friends.

Jonathan Sigmon

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